With technology innovation unfolding at break-neck speed, the past few years have introduced a wealth of new connectivity, mobility and device options for employers to consider for their workforces. 
As organisations seek to capitalise on these innovations in order to boost employee productivity by investing in mobile and versatile tools, tablet and ultrabook form factors pose a compelling solution.
In addition to technology development, the changing and evolving workforce and business culture is also driving a new way of working and increased employee expectations.
Work is no longer somewhere users go on a nine-to-five basis; instead it’s what they do and how productive they are regardless of time or location. And while more end-user data access points should of course mean increased mobility, productivity and versatility, in turn, that can also mean a greater liability and need for enhanced security, manageability and reliability.
“Business class productivity” is about enhancing productivity by using appropriate technology to harness an evolving workforce and its potential. Specifically, this means having the ability to provide levels of technology choice to drive flexibility and productivity, coupled with security, manageability and reliability of trusted business tools.
Ultimately, employees should and can be empowered with the right tools to get their job done in a more efficient and flexible way, regardless of time and location.
The evolving workforce + technology innovation + IT needs = business class productivity.
Users are seeing a well-documented evolution of today’s workforce driven by the consistent innovation and development of new technology.
It’s a cause-and-effect cycle as this technology development is in response to the evolving and increasing demands of today’s workers. At a time when cutting edge technology has become increasingly commoditised and available, people are more familiar and ‘tech-savvy’ than ever before.
The result is that the current and next generation of employees expect to be able to use the latest devices, platforms, connections and applications at work as they do in their personal lives. Being forced to work in a set location and using inflexible company technology is now outdated, de-motivating and restrictive for employees.
The Evolving Workforce research from Dell and Intel revealed that 60% of employees would enjoy work more if able to have a say in their workplace technology.
Employee attitudes and expectations towards work itself are also changing. With the technology now available to support more flexible working practices, employees expect to have the means to do their job anytime, anywhere.
The Evolving Workforce research found that the traditional ‘9 to 5’ working day is diminishing as many roles and duties at work now involve interactions with numerous, dispersed parties in different locations and time-zones.
The result is that workers expect and need the flexibility to work how they want and when they want.
Business class productivity in practice must be supported by business class technology for enterprises. Touch functionality, on its own, is already driving productivity in a new direction.
Businesses need to be able to deploy appropriate devices, platforms and operating systems that satisfy and meet the demands of its evolving workforce, while at the same time upholding the security, manageability and reliability requirements of the company.
As this new way of working continues to take shape, devices with form factors that are desirable but, vitally, practical, powerful and portable are becoming the next core family of business tools to enable greater employee flexibility, productivity and freedom. In addition to laptops, ultrabooks and tablets are rapidly finding an established place in the workforce.
These are all mobile and versatile tools that now have an innovative, durable and attractive design, but they will still need to provide the security, manageability and reliability organisations need.
From an operating system perspective, Windows 8 is one of the latest IT innovations in the spotlight. Designed to enable a more intuitive computing experience, this could be the ideal operating system to define and deliver true business-class productivity underpinned by levels of device freedom and mobility, without compromising security and manageability.
Providing one interface across multiple devices, users are able to move seamlessly from working on conventional PCs, to tablets and mobile devices, and back again. Improved networking gives employees enhanced mobile broadband when working away from a PC, with the benefit of system checking across the available WiFi connections and automatically connecting the user to the best bandwidth.
Features such as these are helping tablets and portable connected devices become truly viable business tools that deliver business class productivity.
Business and security awareness
It’s clear that “business as usual” now means the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime with the right technology and, as we’ve seen, the modern employee expects to be measured and managed on effective output, not hours served behind a desk.
In fact, the Evolving Workforce Study found that 60% of employees want to be measured on the quality of their work rather than time spent in the office, and this is set to increase in the future.
The mix of always-on connectivity and increased understanding of the use and configuration of multiple technologies means that employees can and are simply making their own decisions about which devices, platforms, applications and services they want to use to get their job done. Much in the same way that they choose suitable platforms to support their personal life.
If businesses let this trend go unchecked they are laying themselves wide open to security threats and risk data-loss as employees take matters into their own hands and use their own, unsuitable and unprotected equipment, software and services at work.
Just as bad is the enforcement of a strict and highly restrictive IT policy as this has been shown to drive many (normally very well behaved) employees to look for innovative ways to work around the system so that they can do their job effectively.
Therefore, businesses must consider and deploy the technology and devices that provide the flexibility that employees need to achieve business class productivity as well as offering a degree of choice and desirability. However, the other side of the coin for businesses is how to do this in a managed, controlled and secure way.
Of course, as more devices or “end points” become more mobile and versatile, they also become a greater security and manageability risk. The solution needs to be one which understands the varying needs of the workforce, enabling access appropriate to each employee be it desktop or thin client access.
Consequently, businesses need ultra-portable devices that are supported by the correct software and back-end infrastructure to address key operational issues including mobile device management, virtualisation, security, remote access and cloud technologies.
Business class productivity
The opportunity is there for businesses to harness a new productive, efficient and evolved workforce in a secure, manageable and reliable way. However, to do so, businesses must take their heads out of the sand or risk failure by sticking to outdated technology and adhering to outdated policies and procedures.
Businesses need to understand and select the appropriate new technology to offer employees the choice of the right tools to get their job done in the most productive and flexible way. Not only do we know this will help to drive greater productivity and profitability but there are a range of other business benefits on offer.
Staff churn is reduced, minimising the cost and disruption to the business of losing and hiring staff. Research shows that employees who are not equipped with the right tools to do their jobs in a flexible way become demotivated and look elsewhere for job satisfaction.
Younger employees and candidates also look very carefully at the technology and tools they can use at work and use this to filter-out dinosaur employers. Being able to retain and attract talent is yet another significant business benefit and competitive advantage.
Providing employees with the right tools to do their job anytime, anywhere is not just a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it is a vital ingredient in the future health and growth of businesses.